Barry McNamara  |  Published April 09, 2024

The Nine Lives of Tracy Peck Carlson

From Lululemon to TV, and from the Army to education, the 1996 Monmouth graduate has led a rich life.

MONMOUTH, Ill. – As she looked back over the course of her first 50 years – a milestone she will officially reach in May – Tracy Peck Carlson ’96 quipped that she’s led nine lives.

A quick review does indeed include nine, and the very active Monmouth College graduate still has plenty of time ahead of her to embark on a “back nine” that’s just as fascinating.

So far, Carlson has:

MODEL CITIZEN: Carlson's image overlooks the apparel at the Lululemon store in suburban Deer Park, Illinois. MODEL CITIZEN: Carlson's image overlooks the apparel at the Lululemon store in suburban Deer Park, Illinois.(1) Served as a brand ambassador for Lululemon, a company that stepped into the national spotlight in the 2000s, thanks to its yoga pants and other sportswear apparel. She’s actually done so twice, once a decade ago and again this year. Photos of her in the company’s apparel are prominently displayed at Lululemon’s location in suburban Deer Park, Illinois, not far from Carlson’s home in Mundelein.

“I’m what they call a legacy ambassador,” said Carlson. “I’m honored to go up on the walls again 10 years later.”

(2) Provided a key assist to Danni Allen, who won NBC’s The Biggest Loser in 2014. At the request of a girlfriend, Carlson stepped in to help the 26-year-old from Wheeling, Illinois, drop her weight from 258 pounds at the start of the competition to 137 pounds. Carlson said a key was helping Allen lose the weight steadily, with four different weeks of a six-pound weight loss before she shed 57 pounds over the final four weeks. Allen’s Body Mass Index correspondingly fell from 41.6 to 22.1, and she received a $250,000 prize as the winner of Season 14.

“It has to become a part of your life. It’s all about balance. You can’t cut out all your favorites. It’s about eating better and working out.” – Tracy Carlson


“It has to become a part of your life,” said Carlson of the type of diet and exercise required to begin and maintain weight loss. “It’s all about balance. You can’t cut out all your favorites. It’s about eating better and working out.”

As for Allen, “It’s become an amazing friendship,” said Carlson, “and she’s been an amazing role model for our kids.”

(3) Had an 11-year career in the military. The daughter of a now-retired colonel, Carlson participated in the ROTC program as a Monmouth student, making an almost daily drive to Western Illinois University for military science classes and physical training, in addition to her education major. When the Pi Beta Phi member graduated, she was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army, and Carlson completed her service – which included running a field hospital and reserve duty – as a captain.

(4) Earned a master’s degree in education administration from Northern Illinois University and served as a teacher and assistant principal, primarily at Mundelein High School. As Mundelein’s testing coordinator, Carlson helped college-bound students prepare to take the ACT and SAT tests.

(5) Even after retiring from teaching, continued as Mundelein’s gymnastics coach, a role she relinquished last year.

“I coached gymnastics for 20 years,” she said. “That was a big one to give up, but after I handed my son his diploma, I wanted to walk away from the high school and have more time for travel, and that’s what I’m doing.”

“I coached gymnastics for 20 years. That was a big one to give up, but after I handed my son his diploma, I wanted to walk away from the high school and have more time for travel, and that’s what I’m doing.” – Tracy Carlson


Her son is now a student at the University of Tennessee, and her daughter attends the University of Miami.

PECK'S PECS: Carlson has been fit throughout her life, and helped others achieve their fitness goals, as well. PECK'S PECS: Carlson has been fit throughout her life, and helped others achieve their fitness goals, as well.(6) Worked as a fitness instructor, one of the most constant elements of her “lives.” Its roots go back to even before her time at Monmouth College, and it’s a role that continues today as an elite instructor with Life Time Fitness, a national health and wellness company with more than 170 locations, including Carlson’s home gym in Vernon Hills.

“At Monmouth, I’d run fitness classes in the cafeteria, and I also ran some at the gym downtown that was by Center Stage,” said Carlson, who’s been affiliated with Life Time the past 16 years. “It was just part of my life, and it always has been.”

TRACY'S KEVIN OPPORTUNITY: In 2018, Carlson appeared on Hart's nationally televised reality show, TKO.&... TRACY'S KEVIN OPPORTUNITY: In 2018, Carlson appeared on Hart's nationally televised reality show, "TKO."(7) Appeared as a contestant on Kevin Hart’s CBS show, TKO: Total Knock Out, which Carlson called a cross between Wipeout and American Ninja Warrior.

“I got the itch to do that after doing the stuff I did with Danni,” said Carlson, who ’fessed up to being bleeped for uttering a swear word or two on the nationally televised show. She said close to 200 family and friends gathered for a watch party when the show aired in 2018.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better experience,” she said of her time on the show.

GO CUBS GO: Thanks in large part to her father, Carlson has been a Cubs fan all her life, and she was named the team's ... GO CUBS GO: Thanks in large part to her father, Carlson has been a Cubs fan all her life, and she was named the team's fan of the week by the Marquee Sports Network at the end of last season.(8) Been a lifelong Chicago Cubs fan. When contacted about setting up a time for her interview, she was on her way to Wrigley Field for one of the chilly night games in the Cubs’ season-opening homestand. Last year, she was honored on the Marquee Sports Network as the Cubs’ “Fan of the Week,” in part for her role in helping her father, Michael Peck, be honored on the field as a military veteran. Her X (formerly Twitter) handle includes “Cubslove,” a love she inherited from her father and has passed on to her kids.

“My dad’s a military guy,” she said of her father, whose more than 30 years of service included fighting in Vietnam. “He’s my ride or die.”

Carlson even helped make it possible for her dad to sit next to the “pink hat guy” in the first row behind home plate at Wrigley Field. (Cubs fans understand the significance of that.)

(9) Most importantly, has been a wife and mother. She said she’s using her newfound free time to schedule plenty of travel to visit her children on their respective campuses, as well as attend Cubs games and other athletic events, and continue her active lifestyle.

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